Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Helping teenagers stop smoking: Comparative observations across youth settings in Cardiff

The Health Education Journal has a paper about how schools/colleges, youth centres, and specialist youth provision delivered a six-week smoking cessation and awareness programme to young people in Cardiff.

The researchers spoke to those taking part in the programme at week one and week six of the course and measured

changes in weekly smoking behaviour, weekly expenditure on cigarettes, knowledge about smoking and smoking cessation, attitudes toward smoking, motivation to quit/ cut down, and attrition.

They found that:

Schools/colleges and specialist youth provision had the highest levels of attendance, and positive change in attitude toward quitting was greatest in specialist youth settings (79 per cent of attendees were more determined to quit).

They go on to conclude:

specialist youth provisions were the most effective settings for delivery of this programme. Delivery of smoking awareness as part of a wider health curriculum for groups of excluded young people is also recommended.

Filed under: research, tobacco, Wales

Alcohol and Health in Wales

Off our geographical patch, but of interest I hope, is the new report, Alcohol and Health in Wales. The authors report:

Wales has a higher percentage of 13-year-olds drinking alcohol at least once a week compared to England and Scotland, and out of the 40 countries surveyed [in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey] Wales has the fourth highest percentage amongst 13-year old boys (third highest amongst girls).

The report goes on to look at what young people say about drunkenness and I’ve reproduced the findings in the following graph.

alcohol-wales

The authors of the report say that there are concerns about bias in the figures because the survey relies on self-reporting and the fact that those not attending school are not covered.

Filed under: alcohol, Wales

Working Together To Reduce Harm

The new Welsh drug strategy is out.  It is outside our geographical remit as the Forum, but useful to be aware of.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: drug strategy, Wales,

Nurses for all secondary schools – Wales

Off our patch, but the BBC say:

Efforts are under way to recruit more nurses into schools in Wales to tackle issues such as obesity, sexual health problems and drug and alcohol misuse.

A 10-week consultation is under way on plans to get one family nurse per secondary school by the end of 2011.

The RCN’s school nurses forum have recently joined the Drug Education Forum and we’re looking forward to having their perspective on drug education issues.

Filed under: Wales

Researching the effects of Digital Storytelling as a brief alcohol intervention for young people delivered in non-medical settings

The Alcohol Education Research Council have a paper on some research into using digital media to impact on young people’s drinking:

The aim of the research was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of this innovative media-based intervention seeking to reduce the prevalence of young people’s binge drinking in Caerphilly.

What the researchers measured was not only the behaviour of the young people that saw the films (and a control group that didn’t), but also “the socio-psychological predictors of this behaviour, such as knowledge, attitudes, peer-group norms and intentions towards future drinking.”

The paper describes 5 main findings:

  1. There were advantages and disadvantages in the way the films were commissioned.
  2. Those that helped make the films found being involved very rewarding, and had changed some’s attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol.
  3. Viewing in a group setting was “essential to draw focus to the objectives of the intervention.”  But that takes time and planning.
  4. For group discussions to work they need to be in groups of 30 or fewer.
  5. The young people who saw the films wanted them to be longer, more directly about the issue under discussion, make the process of making the film transparent to those who watch it, take it out of the context of PSHE (to give it increased credibility).

The paper also draws out a number of impications for future research, practitioners and policy makers:

  • Relative to other knowledge questions, the low scores in response to the statement, ‘Getting drunk once a week was not harmful’ was most interesting.
  • The findings showed that intentions were shaped by attitudes towards drunkenness, perceived control, and regret. Therefore, focussing interventions on these three areas is likely to be beneficial when attempts are being made to change people’s drinking behaviour.
  • In the short term it may be particularly beneficial to work of people’s control over their behaviour, perhaps by providing them with the confidence and skill to resist peer pressure.
  • It should be remembered that changes in drinking behaviour may not necessarily be the only indicator of the intervention’s effectiveness. Particularly evident through the in-depth interviews held nine months after the intervention, and not possible to record through the questionnaires, the intervention was perceived as being useful in reaffirming the decisions of those young people who chose not to drink or who had limited experience of drunkenness.

Filed under: alcohol, research, Wales,

Deeside College’s clean bill in proactive drugs swoop – Wales

The Flintshire Standard

MORE than 60 students were searched for drugs as part of a police operation at Deeside College.

The crackdown was part of a link-up between the college and North Wales Police to hammer home the message of zero-tolerance to students.

None of the 64 students were found in possession of drugs, and a search of part of the premises found no evidence of illegal substances.

ACPO guidance on searches says:

Police officers may undertake limited personal searches on school premises where they have reasonable suspicion, or detain those suspected for the purposes of doing so, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The photo that accompanies the story suggests that drugs dogs may have been used. ACPO say:

However, the ACPO recommends that drugs dogs should not be used for searches where there is no evidence for the presence of drugs on school premises. Demonstration and educational visits should not be used as a covert detection exercise.

Further reading:

Filed under: police, Wales, ,

Heroin use among young ‘rising’ | South West Wales

BBC NEWS in Wales report:

Heroin is rapidly becoming the drug of choice for young people and the children as young as six have used it, drug workers in south Wales have said.

Information obtained by BBC Wales shows the youngest person arrested in recent year for supplying heroin was aged 10.

“Drug of choice” is strong language, and certainly doesn’t fit with the English statistics that I’ve seen where Class A drug use amongst young people has remained stable for quite a long period. See the chart below for details (click for larger version).

Heroin use, offers and young people by year

Filed under: heroin, Wales, ,

Alcohol Crackdowns

Children and Young People Now have a story about what’s happening on North Tyneside:

The Child Safe Initiative will see officers patrolling the streets at weekends and collecting underage drinkers who have been reported by the public. The officers will take the children home, confiscate their alcohol and talk to the family about the dangers of drinking.

Afterwards a separate team will write to the family to offer them advice and support.

Whether this comes as a result of the new local alcohol strategies that are being written up and down the country I don’t know, but I suspect they’ll be helping focus partnership’s minds on what they can do, as will the Home Secretary’s words of a month or two ago.

Meanwhile in North Wales things have gone a bit further.  Here’s the BBC’s take:

Under-age drinkers in the streets and parks in Colwyn Bay could be tested by police armed with breathalyser kits.

The pilot scheme in north Wales will see also officers using test strips to see if drinks have alcohol in them.

Any teenagers who fail the test – or who have alcohol on them – will be taken home under the scheme.

A similar project targeting young drinkers took place in Wrexham last summer as part of a UK government drive to reduce binge drinking.

A Home Office spokesman said the department would monitor the success of the scheme.

Meanwhile The Mirror report that young people are resourceful when it comes to obtaining alcohol:

Underage drinkers are buying alcohol from Tesco and getting it delivered to home by using the store giant’s online service.

The teenagers who order booze using a debit card are only asked to tick a box on the website saying they are over 18.

Filed under: alcohol, police, Wales, ,

Calls for Alcohol Education in Primary Schools – Wales

This is from The NUT who report:

Welsh teaching experts have said that the dangers of alcohol abuse must be taught to children in primary schools, according to the Western Mail

They have warned that waiting until secondary school to caution pupils about substance abuse could be too late to be effective and that it would be more appropriate to begin teaching at the age of nine.

Welsh education watchdog Estyn and the chief inspector of education and training in Wales, Dr Bill Maxwell, argue that advice about the impact of drugs and alcohol has more of an impact in primary school than secondary school.

Filed under: alcohol, Wales,

Police Launch Drugs Swoops In Schools – Wales

Across the border, and so not of immediate relevance, but of interest none the less the South Wales Argus say:

The entire year ten group from each school – pupils aged between 15 and 16 – were called into their school hall, where their bags were laid out for the drugs dogs to check.

Officers then used the force’s Ion Track drug detection system to swab doors, desks and other classroom surfaces to check for traces of drugs.

No individual tests were carried out on pupils.

The six officers involved in the operation found no traces of drugs at any of the schools.

PC Darrell Dewar, Cwmbran police’s crime and disorder reduction officer, said the tests were not carried out in relation to any specific incident or as a result of any evidence, but were part of an ongoing operation.

Joining Forces, the guidance from ACPO on police working with schools, has this to say about operations like this (and applies as much to Welsh police as it does to the English service):

ACPO recommends that drugs dogs should not be used for searches where there is no evidence for the presence of drugs on school premises.  Demonstration and educational visits should not be used as a covert detection exercise.

It is worth pointing out that Joining Forces is also clear about drug testing in schools saying:

Drug testing for those under the age of 16 requires prior parental consent to the act of testing.

If the newspaper report is to be believed then it is difficult to see how the force kept within the spirit of the guidance even if they avoided breaking the letter of it by not carrying out tests on individuals.

No traces of drugs were found in the school.

Filed under: police, random drug testing, sniffer dogs, Wales, , ,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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